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US politics up against Mexico wall

Pioneer logo Pioneer 24-02-2019 Pioneer (via HT Media Ltd.)

India, Feb. 24 -- Edward Elbee's play "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" initiated a trajectory in international relations. It reflected the iota of anarchy and chaos which ensues when families sit together for celebration of their conditions. Is the American shutdown reflective of that kind of pandemonium? Not exactly! "Together, we are building a safe, strong and proud America," tweeted President Donald Trump in the context of the revolutionary socio-political and economic changes and reforms that he has been brought about in the American homeland. The American Dream 2.0 is on with the advent of the policies - which are as high and powerful as the Trump Tower - of President Trump. It is reported that the difference of opinion between the American lawmakers with both Democrats and Republicans changing sides, the President's demand has suffered.

The American President demanded that about 5.7 billion dollars had to be released for the construction of an iconic wall of separation between the United States and Mexico. It is similar to the World War I, Zimmerman Telegram, where-in, the German establishment sent a telegram to the Mexican President Cavarrazo in order to take back the border States of Arizona, Texas and New Mexico from the American homeland thus initiating war between the US and Mexico with the aim of diverting the American might from Europe and Britain. Now all that is past as President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency to build the wall on the shared border between the US and Mexico to deter drug traffickers and the other grim crimes entering through a porous border.

One national daily has reported: "Early in January, as the US Government remained partially shutdown over the standoff over $5.6 billion funding for Donald Trump's proposed wall along the country's southern border, the President had said he announced that step declaring a national emergency on the border with Mexico with the rationale, 'We have an invasion of drugs and criminals coming into our country', and even though 'I didn't need to do this, but I'd rather do it much faster, and I just want to get it done faster, that's all'." Thus, President Trump justifies the declaring of the emergency as the need of the hour as a political palliative.

The question of a shutdown can lead to the idiom that there has been a policy and implementation paralysis in the national establishment. The people are quick to tarnish the image of the Government with the argument that the State is insensitive to the concerns of the hoi polloi as the Federal employees have to go forth without their pay cheques. Still, it can be safely argued that when narrow and parochial partisanship takes its toll on the US domestic politics, efforts have to be made by the lawmakers to arrive at a compromise. As of now, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConell, has met Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader in order to bring about a solution to the national quagmire. Still, the Democrats in a politically motivated parochialism have contended that they cannot vote for a prorated funding for the wall across the Mexican border. These antics have muddied the political waters in the American homeland as extreme posturing has bedeviled the debate and the discourse around the immigration issue and the resultant shutdown.

Early on, the US Congress agreed for a reduced amount of money to be diverted for building the wall on the Mexican border which was turned down by the White House. These immigration-related clashes between the lawmakers and the US President led to the impasse and thus paved the way for a Federal Governmental shutdown in the month of January. The Governmental shutdown is not the first one in the American history and the President expects the employees to work and attend office without their due salaries. Thus, the American scenario in the light of the immigration debate seems to have gone sour for the unsuspecting Government employees in the United States. President Trump has praised to cheerlead his employees as he recently tweeted, "To all of those people who are working so hard for their country and not getting paid, I say, You are great people and patriots. We must now work together after decades of abuse to finally fix the criminal, humanitarian and drug crisis at our border. We will win Big."

Thus, President Trump basks in the light of his new policy which has led to a difficult shutdown of the American President. In a way, the bipartisan support present in the US Congress is also a key reason why the shutdown has come about. The shutdown was imminent as President Trump alleges the Democrats and the Democrat head, Nancy Pelosi, rejected the President's offer to end the shutdown. The shutdown has also impacted security at the airports.

ABC News has reported, "The workers at the airports populated by TSA employees have been demoralised as workers say that once you work hard and do not get paid for it, then it's a non-starter. Several checkpoints in Houston, Miami and New York have been shut down due to the Government shutdown and the scenario could be much worse if the shutdown continues till the beginning of February, 2019."

Historically speaking, a shutdown occurs when the Congress does not agree on its annual Budget approval. In the normal Budget process, the Congress approves an annual Budget by September and if that is not attainable then the Congress enacts a continuing funding resolution. If these issues can't be agreed upon, then a Governmental shutdown happens. About, 3,80,000 non-critical sector employees were sent home without salaries in January. One impact on the agriculture sector is that the farmers cannot get their all important loans. In the realm of internal security, the companies find it difficult to verify the workers' status and in another related theme, the rental wellbeing of dependants, elderly people and disables is hampered. The Council of Economic advisors estimates that the shutdown reduces the economic growth by 0.13 per cent points. Still, one voice contends that in February, the entry of illegal aliens has not drastically risen and the border deluge has not actually occurred. Thus, President needs to justify the national emergency, pronto.

President Trump on the other hand represents a hard-nosed and much required strictly followed homeland security policy. The House Democrats are in a way endangering national security. Another way open for President Trump could be the re-direction of the Army Core of Engineers and Disaster Management Corps to the building of the wall where the President won't be requiring any approval from the Congress. Also, building the wall could raise the income of low-skilled workers by 58 cents a year. Still, some observers contend that instead of the wall, resources could be directed towards intelligence, clamping down on overstaying visa-holders and investing in technology. Actually, the shutdowns were introduced through the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 and since then 21 Government shutdowns have occurred which reflect a partisan approach to consensus building at a political level and holds the nation to ransom.

In summation post mid-February, the threats to national security need to be countered with judicious alacrity and the Opposition's activity, and it can only amount to be retrograde in nature and confrontationist in tenor. Thus, appears the national Emergency which has been sanctioned by the American President. Through the National Emergencies Act, 1976, it can be contended that the Congress can curtail the Emergency powers of the President and the President in a way has to periodically report about the entire national emergency and the power clauses that are brought into action and the first suit against the national emergency has already been filed in the Supreme Court and President Trump has already declared to confront it headlong. National emergencies have been imposed so it is not a sheer figment of first time policy in the US.

(The writer teaches International Relations at Indian Institute of Public Administration, Delhi)

Published by HT Digital Content Services with permission from Pioneer.

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